Domestic violence victims need safe escape

By Cinthia Velez-Regalado - Staff Reporter



One in three women and one in four men have suffered from some sort of physical violence by an intimate partner, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Domestic violence can happen to anyone.

"Often times it happens in a way we don't even realize," said Deana Rader, the Women's Programs and WorkFirst Services director.

It's a sticky situation to be in. It doesn't matter what gender you are, or how old you are, experts say.

"It happens it can happen to everybody to the very rich or low income," Rader said.

Domestic violence is something that often is uncomfortable to talk about.

"It's about power and control," said Rader.

Domestic violence doesn't just mean physical abuse. Experts say domestic violence can be anything from financial abuse, sexual abuse, or even verbal and psychological abuse.

There are three main phases to a domestic violence cycle.

Phase one is the tension building. This means that the victim feels like their walking on thin ice. The victim knows that anything can trigger the abuser.

Phase two is the explosion. This means that the abuser unleashes their anger or frustrations on the victim.

Phase three is the honeymoon phase. This mean the victim feels hopeful because the abuser has asked for forgiveness in some way.

"During the honeymoon phase, it's perhaps the safest time," said Rader. "You need to decide when the safest time is to leave."

Counselors say people in domestic violence situations don't like to say anything because they are afraid of what others might say about them.

A lot of time people outside of the situation start to question the victim. Asking questions such as "Why don't you just leave?"

This could be taken by the victim as though it's their fault that they're in the situation. In reality, it's not the victim's fault.

Another question that might make the victim feel guilty is "What did you do to make them mad?"

If domestic violence is happening in a household in which English is not the primary language, the victim might be scared for two reasons. One, the victim might be scared for their life. Two, they might be scared because they don't know how to speak English.

However, many resources are available for people who don't speak English. Consejo, a local counseling center, has resources for Spanish speakers. The YWCA also has Spanish-speaking domestic violence support groups.

Highline offers assistances through Women's Programs.

Women's Programs takes the person in and if the victim is ready to talk to someone about the abuse, the victim is encouraged to call the 24-hour hotline.

If the victim chooses to, they can file a report with campus safety and file a report with Des Moines Police Department.

From there the victim can go to court and get a restraining order against the abuser. The victim may bring a copy of the restraining order with a photo of the individual who isn't supposed to be on around them to the Public Safety Office.

The officers will then notify the victim to contact the victim if they see the person. Then public safety will send someone to keep the victim safe until police come to the scene.

If you know of someone who is in a domestic violence situation, offer your help. Listen to what they are going through.

Don't go around telling other people what this person is going through, experts say.

If you know of someone who is going through a domestic violence situation, make sure to ask "Do you feel unsafe at the moment?" or "Does the abuser have a weapon?" Let the victim know of any available resources.

When the victim decides to leave the abuser, they should have a safety plan. A safety plan is "what to do the moment you decide to leave," Rader said. "[You] need to figure out where you're going to go."

The most important thing is to have quick access to important documents. These documents should be kept together and secret from the abuser.

Documents that should be gathered are driver's license, passports, Social Security numbers, medical cards, any medicines, cellphone, cellphone charger, full tank of gas, cash, and shot records if the victim has any children. These documents need to be accessible to just grab and go, said Rader.

In King County, DAWN (Domestic Abuse Women Network) is an available resource to help. They have shelters, clothing, household stuff, transitional housing, counseling, parenting, domestic violence 101 classes, group sessions, and awareness classes.

"Spots at domestic violence shelters are limited," said Rader. "Shelters can be restrictive, meaning if you have a son, you won't be admitted into the shelter."

Another resource available for victims is the YWCA, which is similar to DAWN in the help it provides.

Abusers typically get help once they have been through the court system after they have been charged, said Rader.

A judge could send the abuser to anger management classes. Other classes that can teach about the power and control wheel, said Rader.

But some abusers might realize that they are harming someone. Here are resources that are here to help people who have realized what they're doing is wrong:

•Consejo has counseling for abusers. For more information, call at (253)579-1998.

•Loveisrespect.org

•The National Domestic Violence Hotline. Phone number is 1-800-787-3224.

It's always helpful to learn about domestic violence and educate yourself on what you could to help domestic violence victims or help yourself if you're in a situation like that, experts say.

If you are currently in a domestic violence situation, remember that it's not your fault. Remember that there are people that are in the same situation and you're not alone in this. There is help out there for people going through the abuse.

"It's not the victim's fault the abuser has the abusive behavior," said Rader.

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